No. 24 of Mr. Griffin to be Retired During Pre-Game Ceremony
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Travis Richards, the only Grand Rapids Griffins player to play in each of the teams first 10 seasons (1996-2006), will have his no. 24 jersey retired during a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 24, prior to the Griffins 7 p.m. game against the Chicago Wolves.
As part of the festivities for Travis Richards Night presented by Grand Craft, the first 1,500 kids will receive a Griffins T-shirt featuring Richards name and legendary no. 24 on the back. The organization will also mark the occasion with presentations and events throughout the evening.
Richards, 36, played more games and seasons in Grand Rapids than any other professional athlete in the citys history and, prior to his retirement on June 14, had the longest continuous stretch of service with one team of any player in the American Hockey League. Furthermore, at the time of Richards retirement announcement, only five pro athletes in the state of Michigan Kris Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jason Hanson and Cory Schlesinger of the Detroit Lions had logged more consecutive, uninterrupted seasons of play in their current uniform than Mr. Griffin.
Richards became the second player and first American to sign with the Griffins on July 26, 1996, and he departed as Grand Rapids all-time leader with 655 games played. He helped lead the Griffins to five division titles, four conference championship appearances and an IHL Turner Cup Finals berth (2000) during the last seven years.
Once the Griffins record-holder with 126 consecutive games played, Richards was a mainstay on the teams blue line during its first eight seasons, missing only 43 of 650 regular season contests and appearing in all 59 playoff games from 1996-2004. However, injuries limited him to 48 games since the start of the 2004-05 campaign. He played in 13 contests last season and earned an assist in his final game in a Griffins uniform, a 5-4 overtime win against Milwaukee at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 3, 2005.
During his storied career, Richards garnered accolades such as the captaincy of the PlanetUSA squad at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic in Grand Rapids and Second Team IHL All-Star honors in 2001. He served three seasons (2001-04) as the Griffins captain the longest tenure in franchise history and the other seven as an alternate captain, skating alongside 265 teammates through the years.
In addition to his games-played primacy, Richards ranks among the franchises regular season career leaders with a plus-131 rating (1st), 182 assists (2nd), 238 points (2nd), 995 shots (2nd), 24 power play goals (T3rd), 502 penalty minutes (5th) and 56 goals (7th).
Richards played nearly his entire pro career in West Michigan. After representing the United States at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher made his pro debut with the IHLs Kalamazoo Wings late in the 1993-94 season. He stayed with the Wings through the 1995-96 campaign, also appearing in three NHL games with the parent Dallas Stars.
In all, Richards played 805 regular season contests during his 13-year career, registering 293 points (70-223293) and 632 penalty minutes. He registered his 800th regular season game as a pro on Nov. 20, 2005 at Toronto.